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CV Bears turn heads once again

We can’t look forward in 2013 without taking quick inventory of what transpired in 2012.

And when it comes to prep athletic success in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, this region takes no back seat to any in either state.

So the feats at the state level for area teams in 2012 will continue in 2013.

Case in point is the Central Valley boys basketball team. What coach Rick Sloan watched transpire last year and carried over to the start of this year will not end soon.

I figured CV would experience a measurable drop-off this season – at least early until some of his inexperienced players got used to varsity. After all, the Bears graduated seven seniors off a team that finished 22-4 and saw a 19-game winning streak snapped in the state final in a 48-42 loss to Davis of Yakima.

Count me as surprised that the Bears, with one starter and two key reserves back, have seemingly picked up where they left off last year.

CV brings an 8-0 overall record into 2013, and the Bears sit at the top of the Greater Spokane League at 6-0.

And here’s why things aren’t likely to change even after this season. The junior varsity is 8-0 with two freshmen starters and two others coming off the bench.

Junior point guard Adam Chamberlain, the first guard off the bench a year ago, has stepped up his contributions and so has junior 6-foot-6 post Beau Byus, the Bears’ sixth man last season. Senior wing Austin Rehkow, the lone returning starter, has overcome some streaky shooting to be a steady contributor as well.

Then there’s a group of about six new players who are fitting into supporting roles nicely.

“We knew we had a good nucleus back with Adam, Austin and Beau,” Sloan said. “I thought those guys would provide us firepower early until the younger kids figured it out. Over the summer the new kids filled in nicely. So coming into the year I knew that barring injuries we would be a solid team.”

Last year Gaven Deyarmin was the vocal leader among the seniors. This year it’s been a different approach.

“So far we’ve had more leadership by committee,” Sloan said.

If Sloan had his druthers, he’d have one outspoken leader like Deyarmin.

“You do this long enough you realize you don’t always get the leadership you want but will take it anyway you can get it,” Sloan said. “Some years the coach has to do it a little bit more. Last year it was nice that the seniors sort of ran the show.”

The player who has taken the biggest step forward in terms of production is Byus.

“Beau has been real solid for us since day one,” Sloan said. “He’s posting up and wanting the ball and rebounding well.”

And like last year, the Bears are defending well.

The Bears are ranked fourth and fifth in Seattle-area newspaper rankings. They should only climb the final 12 games of the regular season.

Their biggest league win came over Gonzaga Prep, 58-40 at home on Dec. 18. Last Saturday, they dismantled visiting Richland 68-44. Richland beat visiting G-Prep in a season-opening game.

“We had 18 turnovers and most of them led to baskets for them,” Richland coach Earl Streufert told the Tri-City Herald after the loss. “They are undefeated and the best team on this side of the state.”

“It’s still early,” Sloan said. “We’ve got a tough stretch the next couple of weeks. The thing I like is that with our younger kids we have a chance to continue to improve. As they get some confidence we could be tough down the stretch.”